Appropriately called a tile drill bit, the best type of drill bit for drilling tile is easy to identify; tile drill bits have a long, smooth shank and a spear-like tip. Although quality and strength vary according to manufacturer and model, tile drill bits feature special design characteristics that bore clean holes through many types of tile and reduce the chance of cracking glazed tiles' finished surfaces. Even better, many tile drill bits are capable of drilling through glass; they're a useful accessory to keep on hand, particularly if you plan to install towel bars and toilet paper holders on tiled walls.
About Tile Drill Bits
Manufacturers clearly label drill bits suitable for tile as "tile drill bits." Importantly, manufacturers also indicate the type of tile that the bit can drill, such as ceramic, porcelain, stone or glass. The most common type of tile drill has a flat, spear-like head or a conical head. Tough, mineral grit coats the head's of the bits, allowing the bits to cut with abrasion rather than sharpness. Additionally, tile drill bits are available in a hole saw style. Like a wood hole saw, a tile hole saw consists of a hollow, cylindrical drilling attachment that creates large diameter holes. All types of tile drill bits mount into standard power drills.
Capabilities of Tile Bits
Tile drill bits bore only through the tile materials specified by the bit's manufacturer. If the tile's substrate attaches to a metal or wooden framing system, you must remove the bit before penetrating the metal or wood portion of the wall. Metal materials often cause damage or premature wear to tile drill bits. Although wood generally doesn't damage a tile bit, tile bits perform poorly in wooden materials.
Tile Drilling Tips
To reduce the chance of cracking tile glaze during drilling, builders cover the drilling area with a layer of masking tape or painter's tape. The tape gently binds and supports the glaze around the hole's circumference. To use this technique, apply the tape to the tile's surface before drawing layout marks and simply pull tape from the tile after drilling. To prevent drilling beyond the desired depth, you can wrap masking or painter's around the drill's shank to indicate the hole's overall depth. When the tape reaches the tile's surface, it's time to stop drilling.
The most common application of tile drill bits is the installation of bathroom wall fixtures, such as toilet paper holders, soap dishes and shower bars. Additionally, tile drill bits allow builders to fasten components to tile floors during remodeling. Examples of remodeling applications include attaching closet or bi-fold door track to a tiled floor, installing base cabinets or anchoring partition walls.